Bars/Lounges · Beer · Burgers · Cheap Eats · Happy Hour · Restaurants

Eat Crow Snack Bar

My brother Jacuzzi and I text each other when we are in a bad mood. He never takes my advice and he often ridicules my answers, but we usually end the conversation on good terms. My solution to him is to go out. I can’t think of a better place than Eat Crow Snack Bar to bring some cheer into your life.

Eat Crow has changed since my last visit. There’s now a handful of local beers, alongside their beers on tap – Lucky Lager and Lone Star. The music is at the optimal volume. The sound is loud enough to enjoy the beats but low enough to carry on a conversation. For this post, let’s listen to a song that was playing last night – “Get Money” by Junior M.A.F.I.A.

Unlike this song, you don’t need to get a lot of money to dine at Eat Crow, particularly so for happy hour. From opening until 5:30 p.m., wines are five dollars and snacks will set you back four bucks. Beers and cocktails are also on special. The regular menu is wallet-friendly, most dishes are six dollars and the most expensive item is twelve dollars.

I asked my server for a recommendation for the driest red wine. He suggested the grenache ($5), a choice I didn’t see on the online menu. I really liked this wine – it was a good, solid red that I would drink at home.

L enjoyed his Microburst Hazy IPA from Banded Peak (473ml, $9). I took a sip and found the IPA light, sweet and juicy.

The Chick Pea Fingers ($4) were delicious. The interior was soft and fluffy. The pesto sauce was bright with some nice spices and what I thought was garlic. I would order this again.

We each ordered a fun-size Crow Burger ($4). What the burger lacks in size it makes up for in flavour. The patty is seared on the outside so that it had this beautiful crunch to it. The beef is cooked to a medium, and the texture is so soft it caresses your tongue. The combination of the pickled zucchini and melted American cheese creates the ultimate flavour bomb. The flavour was so intense that as I ate, I wanted to suck back the juices.

We both tried the Crow Dog ($4). How good can a hot dog be? The Crow hot dog is mind-blowingly good. The weiner is juicy and salty, topped with a creamy sauce, caramelized onions and cheese. This is the ultimate umami pleaser. My favourite part of this dish was the light, crusty bread. The crackling sound the bread made when I bit into it was as satisfying as how it tasted. Heaven.


L wanted to try the Popcorn Shrimp ($12). I’m all for a cream sauce but I love Eat Crow’s pick – a chili lime dipping sauce. The sauce was bright and lively, with flavours that reminded me of Thai food, like coconut oil, cilantro and lime. The lighter sauce also highlighted the quality of the shrimp – there was a good crunch to it and it tasted a little like the the crab claws I would get at a Chinese banquet. There was a nice heat to this dish, the type of hot that sears your taste buds. We would order this again.

Around this time, I wanted to try another wine. I picked the Four Star Pinot Noir ($11). I found this wine sweet with a hint of vanilla. Our server asked me if I liked it. I said the previous wine was more to my taste and this one reminded me of vanilla. She looked so disappointed in my response that I wished I liked vanilla notes in wine.

My last dish was the Chili Dry-Rubbed Chicken Wings ($7.50). This was as good as I remembered in my last visit. The batter melts in your mouth. The chicken arrived so hot, I burned my fingers. Every time I touched the wings, I would be punished for my impatience.

This experience brightened our mood. The music was fun, service was excellent and the food was some of the best I’ve eaten in a long time. Make sure you make a reservation, because the secret is out and you won’t want to get turned away. I’m not the only one who thinks this is an awesome bar. I could hear two other tables exclaiming how fantastic the food is. Eat Crow makes it on Hitting the Sauce’s list of best restaurants in Calgary.

17th Ave · Bars/Lounges · Fusion · Hawaiian · Restaurants

Lulu Bar

I met Jaime and Invisible Sandi at Frenchie Wine Bar. Invisible Sandi’s husband Boudoir stopped by for a drink. When we finished our wine, we all walked over to Lulu Bar for dinner. For this post, let’s listen to a song Lulu Bar played that totally made my day.

Lulu Bar took over the old Local 510 spot. If you ever frequented the previous establishment, you’ll recognize the bones of the former bar. The space feels open and bright.  With the warm breeze blowing into the room I felt like vacationing somewhere sunny.

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After I ordered wine from our server, I realized how annoying I am. Based on her facial response, I have to tone my specification down. I blame Bar Von Der Fels as they encourage me to be picky until I find a glass I love. I enjoyed the glass of French chardonnay she picked for me. I didn’t find it oaky or buttery.

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We ordered a small bowl of Sambal Popcorn ($3.50). The seasoning was so tangy and spicy it made me sneeze. I covered my mouth with my hand but a piece of the popcorn flew out onto my hair. I tried to discreetly pick it off, but the kernel was stuck on pretty good.

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Boudoir ordered the Hot Dog Baos ($9), his favourite dish of the night. He said the hot dog reminded him of a sweet pepperoni bun. Invisible Sandi didn’t say much about the food, maybe because she was too busy amusing everyone with her whimsical quips.

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Jaime and I enjoyed our Fried Miso Cured Egg ($4). I liked the heat from the tamarind chili jam. The batter on the egg and crunch of the cucumber relish made this appetizing dish pop.

Boudoir thought his Fried Coconut Squid ($13) was underseasoned. I didn’t taste any heat or salt, just the sweetness of the pineapple sauce. I thought the squid itself was tender and better quality than I’m accustomed to.

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Jaime said the Snow Peas and Tendrils ($10) was a dish that her parents would make at home. The pods were crunchy with a satisfying snap. The flavour profile was nice – a hint of sesame, fresh horseradish and the smoky char of the peas. I’d order this again.

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I usually find yams and sweet potatoes overly sweet. Lulu’s version was a winner. The fresh mint, yuzu cashew cream and salt flakes balanced the sweetness of the Crispy Roasted Sweet Potatoes ($10).

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My favourite dish was the Steamed Lobster Dumplings ($16). These dumplings made me finally understand the phrase ‘Asian sensation’. The lobster filling was luxurious, slippery from its bath of fresh basil, chili, soy sauce and tobiko. I’d order this again and I wouldn’t want to share.veg dump.jpg

Jaime was too full so I ate two of her vegetarian dumplings ($13). Compared to the lobster dumplings, the vegetarian version was squishier and simpler. If you’re a vegetarian, this is probably as good as it’s going to get for you.

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We shared the Baked Kuna ($11). Jaime enjoyed the macadamia nuts and the warm dark chocolate.  I liked the process of drizzling the chocolate over the cake, even though I know the kitchen staff would have done a better job with the presentation.

Thanks Jaime for treating me out to a fun filled night. I plan to return to Lulu with L. I know he would love the vibe and the lobster dumplings.

Lulu Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Burgers · Restaurants · Special Occasion · Steakhouse

Bar Modern – No Man’s Dinner #2

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Photo Credit: Loaf2go

For our second No Man’s Dinner meetup, our supper club met at Bar Modern on Stephen Ave. L was initially hesitant to join our club due to a past negative experience. In 2012, I dragged him to a food event. We learned years later that one of the guests we met was charged for child luring and sexual touching of a minor. C came to L’s defense and said she doesn’t blame him, as she too would be jaded if she accidentally met a pedophile. For this post, let’s listen to “Heebie Jeebies” by The Bosell Sisters.

Bar Modern offers a daily happy hour menu from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm. For six bucks, you can choose from house red or white wine, beer, highballs and some snacks. I detest house wine so I ordered a 5-ounce glass of Cabernet Sauvignon (Submission, Napa Valley $12.25). The wine was plummy and jammy, with a sweet vanilla aftertaste. I preferred my second glass of wine – a light and peppery Pinot Noir (Spy Valley, New Zealand $9.75).

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Our server Jordan gave us a rundown of the menu. His mouth-watering description of the Modern Smash Burger ($19) sold us. L liked the ratio of meat to produce. The double patty was crispy on the outside and the meat melted in your mouth. L described the burger as a sophisticated Big Mac but with top quality ingredients.

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I’d recommend you add bacon ($2) and upgrade the fries to truffle ($2). The bacon was crisp and arrived still glistening. Every element in the burger was excellent. Even the slice of tomato was a treat – so sweet it tasted like it was plucked from a garden.

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Photo Credit: Loaf2go

I announced that L’s burger was one of the best I’ve tried in Calgary. Seashell said she is wary when people claim something they have eaten is the best, because what is that based on and how can you compare that to someone else’s experience? Someone at the table clarified that I said it was the best burger I had in Calgary. C said she needs to eat more burgers before she can decide. T was impressed the bun held up to all the juices and sauces in the burger. @pak_to_eating_yyc tried a bite of her boyfriend’s burger and wished she ordered that instead of the beef rib. All I know is that if we spent this much time talking about a god damn burger, it must be something special.

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C enjoyed her New York Striploin Steak frites ($34). She thought the striploin was nicely cooked and simply seasoned. I tried a piece of C’s meat and I could tell the difference between Modern Steak’s beef and what L normally buys on sale from Safeway. The flavor of the steak and the juiciness was superior. @kimrobynyyc ordered the 7 oz Flat Iron ($29) and she thought it was yummy.

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I ordered the Steak Tartare ($18). Lately, I’ve been on a steak tartare bender. The tartare  was both tender yet chewy. I forgot to give C a piece to try.

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C permitted Seashell to pick the next venue. I suggested that she pick whatever she liked – be it the Ship and Anchor or some other Calgary institution. She nodded and said she would need some time to think about it. I just hope Seashell picks a restaurant with a decent wine list. Otherwise I’ll be irritable and likely focus my negative energy on L.

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Thanks to the members of No Man’s Dinner for the good company and fun. I’m looking forward to the next meet-up.

Modern Steak Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Pizza · Pubs · Restaurants

Blackbird Public Urban Bar

We met L’s colleague Tent and his wife Canoe for drinks in Auburn Bay. As we are traveling to Croatia together for a conference, Tent thought it would be a good idea to meet up before our trip. For this post, let’s listen to Blackbird by The Beatles.

I chose Blackbird Public Urban Bar because on Thursdays, wine is half-price. L and I were early, so I ordered a bottle of Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon ($48.50/HH $24.50). L ordered a pint of Goose Island IPA ($7.5). I learned after Canoe arrived that she drinks red but prefers white wine. I told Canoe that I heard Croatia has some nice white wines.  She suggested that we go to a winery while we are there. What an excellent idea!

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I could tell that I was going to enjoy traveling with Canoe because she makes good food choices. She ordered the Pig Fat Popcorn ($4). The seasoning was a blend of what tasted like hot chili powder and grana padano. The popcorn was warm and fresh, so addicting I couldn’t stop eating it.

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L and I shared a large Fried Chicken Pizza ($24). The crust was thick and doughy. The pizza had ample cheese, large slices of pineapple, small chunks of fried chicken and jalapenos. I didn’t care for the pineapple. L disagreed and said the combination was a good mix of savoury, sweet and spicy.

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Canoe ordered the Ahi Tuna Sushi Bowl ($18), similar to chirashi but with chunks of vegetables and a sauce that looked like honey mustard. Canoe enjoyed her bowl and said it was like eating a sushi roll. She thought the sushi rice was okay but not as good as Kinjo. She offered me a bite but since I just met her, I declined and instead ogled her food.

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Tent ordered a small Fried Chicken Pizza ($15). He ate about half of the pie and left the crust. Canoe mentioned she wanted to bring back lace from Croatia. Tent was very interested until he realized they were talking about different usages of lace. Canoe wanted the type you put on furniture, like a doily.

I’m getting excited for our upcoming trip. A few places I wanted to dine at include Konoba Bonaca, Barba, Buza Bar, Fish Bar El Pulpo and Pink Shrimp. Some of the excursions I’m interested include a day trip to Bosnia, island hopping, Lokrum Island, wineries and a Game of Throne tour. As Tent and Canoe are athletic, I’m going to suggest they check out chasing waterfalls, biking and kayaking.

Blackbird Public Urban Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beer · Burgers · Cheap Eats · Restaurants

El Furniture Warehouse

Loaf2go and I met up for lunch to discuss our upcoming No Man’s Dinner event. She wanted to check out El Furniture Warehouse for the $5.99 menu. For this post, let’s listen to Sia “Cheap Thrills“.

Before I eat anywhere, I always look up any information I can find. I check Instagram, Facebook, Google reviews, Yelp, Tripadvisor, Zomato, and of course, food reviews. I saw on Twitter that Crackmacs was wowed by the Cranberry Turkey Sandwich. Bill Kaufmann from the Calgary Sun praised the braised beef pasta and a salad.

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Loaf2go ordered the Braised Beef Spaghetti. She wanted to share an appetizer that wasn’t fried, so I suggested the Beet & Goat Salad. I picked the Roasted Turkey BLT. We didn’t wait long before our food arrived.

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The greens in my side salad and in the roasted beets were not fresh. There were some brown stems and wet, brown leaves. The beets were wrinkled. Also, there wasn’t any mint in the beet salad, as described on the menu. Our server Nicole came by twice to ask how we were doing. I could have told her that the salads were bad and I’m sure she would have fixed it, but I didn’t want to make a fuss over such a cheap dish.

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I tried a bite of Loaf2go’s pasta. Kaufmann described El Furniture’s spaghetti as “… a meaty, zesty pasta pile that, for $5.95, was a sweet deal.” What little beef there was I would not describe as meaty. The sauce tasted like it came from a can. But Kaufmann is right, for six bucks, it was a good deal.

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I liked Crackmac’s pick. The sandwich was tasty. The cranberry sourdough was crunchy and sweet, stacked with slices of turkey, tomato, stuffing and cheese. The sandwich wasn’t large but enough to satisfy me. The turkey sandwich was cheaper than the gross $7 sandwiches with processed cheese sold at Bow Valley College, plus you get a side.

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I like the music, service and vibe at El Furniture Warehouse. I’d return, but I would stick to the fried food and beers. This is the sort of place I would frequent when I was doing my undergraduate degree. You get the experience of eating out without going over your budget.

After our meal we checked out Bar Modern on Stephen Ave. When we walked in, I told the assistant GM that I wanted to look around to get an idea of the space for an upcoming party. She gave me a tour of the two floors and showed me the difference in the two menus. Loaf2go and I have decided to host our next No Man’s Dinner at Bar Modern. I can’t wait – I know the wines will be superb and I’m looking forward to trying the beef tartare and steak.

El Furniture Warehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Special Occasion

Nash Restaurant – Lunch

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My friend Veronica and I were shopping at Espy when she suggested we eat at Nash Restaurant for lunch. I was game, though I had a hankering for Spolumbos. We were greeted by a friendly hostess and we chose to dine at the bar section. We started off meal with two glasses of Sauvignon Blanc ($13).

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Veronica and I shared the special appetizer of the day – homemade ravioli with egg yolk, peas and mushrooms ($13). This was one of the best dishes I’ve tried in my life.

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The butter sauce, cheese and creamy egg yolk was so decadent. The ravioli was al dente and done right. One of my favourite ingredients were the peas. I love sweet peas so much, I could contently eat a big bowl for my meal.

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Veronica and I shared the Pacific Halibut and Heritage Breed Pork Hot Dog ($17). This similar to the  Japa hotdog you can get in Vancouver but with far superior ingredients. This dog was finger-licking good, drizzled in an addicting crack-like brown mayo sauce. When I bit into the sausage, I got sprayed with its juices. You need a shield to eat this baby. Veronica liked the fries but I found them a bit dry.

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I was really happy with my meal at Nash. I plan to return to check out more of the other dishes they have to offer. If you see the special ravioli appetizer featured again, you have to try it. Seriously, best dish I’ve tried #yyc for 2016.

 

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View my food journey on Zomato!

Nash Restaurant & Off Cut Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars/Lounges · Beer · Burgers · Toronto · Vietnamese

Day 2 in Toronto: Banh Mi Boys, Mill Street Brewery, Black Hoof, & Bellwoods Brewery

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We woke up late the next day and headed over to Banh Mi Boys. Our Airbnb host Kimmy recommended it for lunch. L ordered the Grilled Chicken ($6.99) while I picked the 5 Spice Pork Belly ($7.50) banh mi and a can of coconut water.

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I was surprised that the sandwiches contained so much meat considering the price. My favourite of the two sandwiches was the Grilled Chicken. The chicken was hot and smothered in a mouth-watering BBQ sauce. I really liked the pork belly and the fact the cut of meat contained quite a bit of lean meat and not all fat. I thought the seasoning in the pork belly smelled like dim sum.

Excellent prices, good quality ingredients and delicious flavours, I think Banh Mi Boys deserves all its hype. I can see why it is such a popular spot.

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We checked out the U of T campus and then the Annex before we met Thomas at the Mill Street Brewery. I know Thomas would have preferred to head to Kensington for drinks, but I wanted to show L the touristy Distillery section. We drank free samples in the tasting room and then landed a table on the patio.

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L ordered a Tankhouse Radler, poured with grapefruit juice ($8.00) while I drank a pint of Mill ST Organic and a shot of bierschnaps ($14). The bierschnaps tasted like whisky. L’s radler was refreshing and delicious.

We munched on the Cheddar Ale Dip ($12.00), which is made with Tankhouse ale, four cheeses and came with fresh potato chips. I thought the dip was not the most flavourful and the chips were too oily to go with the watery consistency of the dip. Regardless, I’m glad we went as the speciality drinks were good and not something I can get back home.

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We walked back to our hotel room to get ready for the main event, dinner at Black Hoof. The only show I watch on Netflix besides Narcos is Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown. I saw that he raved about Black Hoof, as well as our friend M, so I made it my mission to check it out.

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We arrived at 6:30 pm and were the second couple to arrive. However, within an hour, the entire restaurant was packed. L went crazy over his Trou du Diable ($9.00), a beer made in Shawinigan, Quebec. The IPA was a juicy, slightly hoppy, with small bubbles. Based on my server’s recommendation, I ordered a glass of the Charles Baker riesling ($11), which I found not sweet and fragrant.

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Our server recommended five dishes but I’m glad we only ordered four as the food was so filling. We ordered Pistachio Hummus and Chicken Livers ($10, plus $3.00 for bread), Tongue on Brioche ($15), Horse Tartar ($18) and the Smoked Scallops & Sobrassada ($18).

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The horse tartar was quite delicate in texture and flavour. To me, it was clean tasting, fresh and much lighter than a beef tartar.

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One of our favourite dishes was the Pistachio Hummous with Chicken Livers. By the way, no chickpeas were used in this dip. The sweet nuttiness of the pistachio went well with the richness of the chicken livers. With or without the bread, this was a divine dish.

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I enjoyed the smoked scallops. The scallops had a buttery smooth texture without a trace of fishiness. This dish, like the horse tartar, was a light and subtle in taste.

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The tongue was delicious. The meat was sliced super fine and was kinda like pastrami but less strong tasting. Mixed with whole grain mustard and the richness of the mayonnaise, the tenderness of the salty meat and crunchiness of the brioche made me forget all about what a whole beef tongue looks with its skin on.

bellotwon brewery

After dinner, we were meeting with my sister’s best friend M and her husband D. They were running late so we headed over to Bellwoods for a table. I’m glad we were early as the place was packed. The garage-like interior was such a cool space, I wished there was one like it in Calgary or Vancouver.

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Based on the server’s recommendation, I ordered a Diable Pitoune, an unfiltered pilsner. This beer was fruity with tiny bubbles that reminded me of champagne. It was very easy to drink.

M and D ordered some snacks. Fries with garlic mayo toscano cheese, fine herbs ($7) and foie gras terrine ($12) with sour cherries and house-made brioche. The food looked and smelled so good, but I was so full from dinner, I couldn’t even try a bit nor another beer.

When L and I return to Toronto, we’ll give Bellwoods Brewery a go for dinner, and Bar Isabella, M and D’s favourite hang-out. I’m happy to report that day 2 in Toronto was a success.

View my food journey on Zomato!

The Black Hoof Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato